Human beings will be happier - not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That's my utopia.
A safe, free and just America is undermined, not bolstered, by the costly and ineffective War on Drugs. While well-intentioned, this misguided policy -- which emphasizes criminalization over treatment -- has led to increased violent crime, misdirected resources of law enforcement and restricted Constitutional liberties.
Despite billions spent yearly on the drug war, addiction is up. Our country must rethink a policy that produces many casualties, but benefits only the prison-industrial complex. Non-violent drug offenders often receive Draconian sentences, tearing apart families.
Racial bias in the enforcement of drug laws is pervasive. According to a Human Rights Watch report based on FBI statistics, blacks were arrested on drug charges at nearly five times the rate of whites. Drug use is consistent across racial and socioeconomic lines -- yet in the state of New York, for example, 94 percent of incarcerated drug offenders are Latino or African-American, mostly from poor communities.
Countries in Europe and elsewhere are turning away from failed policies. They are treating addiction as a medical problem and are seeing significant reductions in crime and violence -- with fewer young people becoming involved with addictive drugs in the first place. In our country, due to misplaced priorities and resources, only one bed exists
for every ten people who apply for drug treatment. Addiction is a medical and moral problem that should be treated by professionals, not dumped on the criminal justice system
Most Americans believe that medical marijuana should be available to help relieve the suffering of seriously ill patients, and eight states have passed laws to allow it. But the Bush administration has harassed medical marijuana patients in an effort to assert federal authority. This is another aspect of the drug war that should be ended.